Best Practices for Preventing Workplace Harassment

A report from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) highlights best practices for employers to prevent and respond to workplace harassment. According to the EEOC report, employers should:

Best Practices for Preventing Workplace Harassment

  • Foster an organizational culture in which harassment is not tolerated;
  • Adopt and maintain a comprehensive anti-harassment policy (which prohibits harassment based on any protected characteristic, and which includes social media considerations) and establish procedures consistent with the best practices outlined in the report;
  • Ensure that any such anti-harassment policy–especially details about how to complain of harassment and how to report observed harassment–is frequently communicated to employees in a variety of forms and methods;
  • Ensure that where harassment is found to have occurred, discipline is prompt and proportionate to the severity of the infraction. Discipline should be consistent and not give or create the appearance of undue favor to any particular employee; and
  • Dedicate sufficient resources to training middle-management and first-line supervisors on how to respond effectively to harassment that they observe, that is reported to them, or of which they have knowledge or information–even before such harassment reaches a legally-actionable level.

Click here to read the EEOC report in its entirety.

 

The content herein is provided for general information purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or other advice or opinions on any matters. This information has been taken from sources which we believe to be reliable, but there is no guarantee as to its accuracy.

Copyright © 2018 HR 360, Inc. All rights reserved.

DOL Replaces Guidance on Employee Classification

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has withdrawn its 2014 guidance regarding the meaning and scope of the term “employment relationship” under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and replaced it with its guidance from 2008. As a result of this change, the DOL no longer advises that “most workers are employees.”

DOL Replaces Guidance on Employee Classification

Withdrawn 2014 Guidance
In 2014, the DOL issued guidance on how to determine whether an employment or independent contractor relationship exists for purposes of the federal FLSA. The guidance stated, among other things, “Applying the FLSA’s definition [of “employ”], workers who are economically dependent on the business of the employer, regardless of skill level, are considered to be employees, and most workers are employees.” Effective immediately, this guidance has been withdrawn.

2008 Guidance Once Again Effective
The 2014 guidance has been replaced by guidance from 2008. The 2008 guidance does not contain the statement that “most workers are employees.” However, this guidance does include the same “economic realities” test present in the 2014 guidance, under which determination of employee status is made by considering the following factors:

  • Whether the work performed is an integral part of the employer’s business.
  • Whether the worker’s managerial skill affects the worker’s opportunities for profit or loss.
  • The worker’s relative investment compared to the employer’s investment.
  • Whether work performed requires special business skills, judgment, and initiative.
  • Whether the worker-employer relationship is permanent or indefinite.
  • The nature and degree of the employer’s control of the work.

For additional information on employers’ responsibilities under the FLSA, contact us today to learn how Payroll Experts can help!

 

The content herein is provided for general information purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or other advice or opinions on any matters. This information has been taken from sources which we believe to be reliable, but there is no guarantee as to its accuracy.

Copyright © 2018 HR 360, Inc. All rights reserved.

New Form W-4 and Online Withholding Calculator Released

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released new versions of Form W-4 and its online withholding calculator to help taxpayers check their 2018 tax withholding following passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December 2017. The IRS urges taxpayers to use these tools to make sure they have the right amount of tax taken out of their paychecks.

Online Withholding Calculators Released

Among other things, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act increased the standard deduction, removed personal exemptions, increased the child tax credit, limited or discontinued certain deductions, and changed the tax rates and brackets. If changes to withholding should be made as a result of these changes, the IRS withholding calculator gives employees the information they need to fill out a new Form W-4. Employees must submit the completed W-4 to their employers.

 

The content herein is provided for general information purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or other advice or opinions on any matters. This information has been taken from sources which we believe to be reliable, but there is no guarantee as to its accuracy.

Copyright © 2018 HR 360, Inc. All rights reserved.

Top 5 Necessary New Hire Forms

An employee’s first day on the job can be very stressful for both the employee and employer. While trying to set up the new hire with his or her parking pass, email account, and other necessities, employers should also remember that completing the following forms is just as important.

Top 5 New Hire Forms

  1. Form I-9: Under federal law, employers are required to verify the identity and employment authorization of each person they hire by completing and retaining Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Newly hired employees must complete and sign Section 1 of Form I-9 no later than the first day of employmentClick here to download Form I-9.
  2. Federal Form W-4: An employee must complete federal Form W-4 for the employer to withhold the correct federal income tax from the employee’s pay. Click here to download federal Form W-4.
  3. State Form W-4: In states with a state income tax, an employee must complete a state Form W-4 (or its equivalent) in order for the employer to withhold the correct state income tax from the employee’s pay. To obtain a state Form W-4, contact your state’s taxation department.
  4. Basic Employment Information Sheet: Employers should keep certain basic information about each of their employees on file, including their address, phone number, and emergency contact. Click here to download a Basic Employment Information Sheet.
  5. Direct Deposit Authorization Form: It is now easier than ever for an employer to directly deposit an employee’s paycheck into his or her bank account. Such deposits, however, must be specifically authorized by the employee. Click here to download a Direct Deposit Authorization Form.

 

The content herein is provided for general information purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or other advice or opinions on any matters. This information has been taken from sources which we believe to be reliable, but there is no guarantee as to its accuracy.

Copyright © 2018 HR 360, Inc. All rights reserved.

3 ACA Terms Large Employers Need to Know

In general, under the employer shared responsibility (“pay or play”) provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), applicable large employers—generally those with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees—may be subject to a penalty if they do not offer minimum essential coverage that is affordable and provides minimum value to their full-time employees (and their dependents).

ACA Terms- Large Employer

Here are definitions to help employers understand these key terms:

Minimum Essential Coverage: Minimum essential coverage includes, among other things, coverage under an employer-based plan (including self-insured plans, retiree plans, and COBRA coverage). It does not include fixed indemnity, life insurance, dental, or vision coverage. Click here for more on what qualifies as minimum essential coverage.

Affordable Coverage: For purposes of pay or play, coverage is generally considered affordable for plan years beginning in 2018 if the employee’s required contribution for the lowest cost self-only health plan is 9.56% or less of his or her household income for the taxable year. Given that employers are unlikely to know an employee’s household income, for purposes of pay or play, they may use a number of safe harbors to determine affordability, including reliance on Form W-2 wages.

Minimum Value: An employer-sponsored plan provides minimum value if it covers at least 60% of the total allowed cost of benefits that are expected to be incurred under the plan, and provides substantial coverage of inpatient hospitalization and physician services.

The content herein is provided for general information purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or other advice or opinions on any matters. This information has been taken from sources which we believe to be reliable, but there is no guarantee as to its accuracy.

Copyright © 2018 HR 360, Inc. All rights reserved.

2018 Federal Tax Withholding Guidance Released

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released Publication 15 (Circular E), Employer’s Tax Guide, for use in 2018. This publication:

2018 Federal Tax Withholding Guidance Released

  • Details employers’ federal tax responsibilities;
  • Explains the federal requirements for withholding, depositing, reporting, paying, and correcting employment taxes;
  • Lists the forms employers must give to their employees, those that employees must give to the employer, and those that the employer must send to the IRS and Social Security Administration; and
  • Features the tax tables to calculate the taxes to withhold from each employee.

Publication Highlights
Highlights of the 2018 publication include the following:

  • Social Security and Medicare Tax for 2018. The Social Security tax rate is 6.2% each for the employee and employer. The Social Security wage base limit is $128,400. The Medicare tax rate is 1.45% each for the employee and employer. There is no wage base limit for the Medicare tax.
  • 2018 Withholding Tables. The publication includes the 2018 Percentage Method Tables and Wage Bracket Tables for Income Tax Withholding.
  • Withholding Allowance. The 2018 amount for one withholding allowance on an annual basis is $4,150.

Click here to access the 2018 IRS Publication 15.

Reminder: Post OSHA Form 300A Starting Feb. 1

Employers subject to the record-keeping requirements of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act are reminded to post their 2017 OSHA Form 300A, Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, from February 1–April 30, 2018.

OSHA Form 300A lists the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred during the previous year, and must be posted even if no work-related injuries or illnesses occurred during the year. It should be displayed in a common area where notices to employees are usually posted so that employees are aware of the injuries and illnesses occurring in the workplace. In addition, a company executive must certify that he or she has examined the employer’s OSHA Form 300, Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, and that he or she reasonably believes—based on his or her knowledge of the process by which the information was recorded—that the OSHA Form 300A is correct and complete.

For more information on the OSHA Form 300A requirement, please click here.

What Employers Need to Know About ACA Reporting in 2018

Under the Affordable Care Act, applicable large employers (ALEs)—generally those with at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, in the preceding calendar year—must report certain information to their full-time employees and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about the health care coverage they have offered (if any).

With deadlines for 2017 reporting just a few weeks away, ALEs should begin thinking about these five information reporting facts:

  1. ALEs are required to furnish a Form 1095-C to each of their full-time employees by March 2, 2018.
  2. ALEs must file Forms 1095-C, accompanied by the transmittal Form 1094-Cwith the IRS no later than February 28, 2018 (or April 2, 2018, if filing electronically).
  3. Self-insured ALEs must also report via Forms 1094-C and 1095-C.
  4. ALEs that file 250 or more Forms 1095-C must file them electronically.
  5. ALEs can find a complete list of information reporting resources at the IRS’s Information Center for Applicable Large Employers.

IRS Releases New Income Tax Withholding Tables

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released IRS Notice 1036, Early Release Copies of the 2018 Percentage Method Tables for Income Tax Withholding. The notice updates the income tax withholding tables for 2018, reflecting changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Employers should begin using the 2018 withholding tables as soon as possible, but not later than February 15, 2018. The new withholding tables are designed to work with the Forms W-4 that workers have already filed with their employers.

Click here to read IRS Notice 1036

 

HR Snapshot- Workers Compensation Advice

Courtesy of HR Snapshot!

Question: An employee injured themselves while on break and had to be taken to urgent care. Does this injury fall under workers’ compensation even through it occurred during a break?

Answer from Marisa, PHR:

Whenever an employee makes you aware of an injury or accident during the workday or at the workplace, your best course of action is to file a claim with your workers’ compensation carrier. Once the claim is in their system, you can work with the carrier to determine if the claim is valid. If you have concerns, you can (and should) raise them with the carrier.

Once the carrier has the claim and related information, they can analyze the issue and decide whether they want to dispute or negotiate the claim and what benefits will or will not be offered. Like you, they want to control costs, so they will be on your side as circumstances allow.

If the employee does not wish to file a claim, you should still have them complete the claim form to document the incident. You should also be sure to document that the employee declined to file for benefits.

Marisa has experience working in a wide variety of HR areas, including payroll, staffing, and on-/ off-boarding. She has worked at both national and local companies, in a wide range of businesses and industries. Marisa earned her B.S. in Business Administration and Communications from the University of Oregon. She loves watching football and basketball, volunteering and spending time with her two dogs.

Questions?

Payroll Experts
7500 North Dobson Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85256
Phone: 877.536.1907
Email: amatak@payrollexperts.com
Visit us online

EEOC Releases Guidance on Workplace Harassment Prevention

Guidance on Workplace Harassment Prevention

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment, a guidance document that contains harassment prevention recommendations for employers in four broad categories:

  • Leadership and accountability;
  • Harassment policies;
  • Harassment complaint systems; and
  • Harassment training.

For each category, the guidance lists numerous actions employers can take. Recommended actions include, for example:

  • Allocating sufficient resources for effective harassment prevention strategies;
  • Crafting an unequivocal statement that harassment based on, at a minimum, any legally protected characteristic, is prohibited; and
  • Conducting regular, interactive, and comprehensive harassment prevention training for all employees.
The document states that while the practices it discusses are not legal requirements under federal employment discrimination laws, they may enhance compliance efforts.

To read the guidance document, click here.

Small Business Health Care Tax Credit Form Released

The IRS has released Form 8941, Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums, and related instructions, for tax year 2017. Eligible small employers use this form to figure the credit for health insurance premiums under the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.

The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit is designed to encourage small businesses and tax-exempt employers to offer health insurance coverage to their employees. Among other requirements, an employer may be eligible for the credit for tax year 2017 if: Small Business Health Care Tax Credit Form Released

  • It had fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees for the tax year;
  • It paid at least 50% of the premium cost for single health care coverage for each employee;
  • The average annual wages of its employees for the year were less than $53,000; and
  • It paid premiums on behalf of employees enrolled in a qualified health plan offered through a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace (or qualifies for an exception to this requirement).

Note: Employers in Hawaii cannot claim this credit for insurance premiums paid for health plan years beginning after 2016.

Click here to review Form 8941 and its instructions.

Federal Law Alert: DOL Adopts New Unpaid Intern Test

DOL Adopts New Unpaid Intern Test

Last Friday the Department of Labor (DOL) adopted a new test for unpaid interns. Employers should use this test—called the primary beneficiary test—when determining if a worker can be properly classified as an unpaid intern or if they need to be classified as an employee and paid minimum wage and overtime. The test adopted by the DOL has already been in use in four federal appellate courts, most recently the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The DOL’s switch to the primary beneficiary test creates a nationwide standard.

Balancing v. All-or-Nothing
Previously, the DOL was using a six-question all-or-nothing test. An employer needed to be able to say “yes, the internship does that” to all six questions or else classify the worker as an employee. The new test is a balancing (or factors) test and has seven questions. No single question will disqualify the worker from being classified as an unpaid intern. Instead, the employer may look at the answers as a whole.

The New Questions
The new questions overlap significantly with the old questions. The major element missing from the new test is a focus on whether the intern is providing tangible benefit to the employer. The old test indicated that the employer should receive little to no benefit from the services of an unpaid intern, with the exception of goodwill and a qualified future applicant. The new test doesn’t ask if the employer is receiving a benefit.

In place of questions about whether the employer receives any benefits, the new test places more emphasis on the internship being academically focused. Only one of six questions in the old test asked about the training and educational aspects of the job, whereas four of seven do in the new test. Employers are free to look at factors outside of these seven, but should be careful about stretching to find new questions if these seven lead to an answer of “paid employee.”

Under the primary beneficiary test, employers should consider the following:

  1. The extent to which the intern and the employer clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation. Any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests that the intern is an employee.
  2. The extent to which the internship provides training that would be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment, including the clinical and other hands-on training provided by educational institutions.
  3. The extent to which the internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit.
  4. The extent to which the internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar.
  5. The extent to which the internship’s duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with beneficial learning.
  6. The extent to which the intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern.
  7. The extent to which the intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the conclusion of the internship.

Questions?

Payroll Experts
7500 North Dobson Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85256
Phone: 877.536.1907
Email: amatak@payrollexperts.com
Visit us online

ACA Forms 1095 Due to Employees by March 2nd

ACA Forms 1095 Due to Employees by March 2nd

Employers subject to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) information reporting requirements are reminded that the deadline to furnish Forms 1095-B and 1095-C are quickly approaching. The reporting deadlines in 2018 are for reporting information on the 2017 calendar year, and are as follows:

  • Applicable large employers (ALEs)—generally those with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalents—must furnish a Form 1095-C to all full-time employees by March 2, 2018.
  • Self-insuring employers that are not considered ALEs, and other parties that provide minimum essential coverage, must furnish a Form 1095-B to responsible individuals (which may be the primary insured, employee, former employee, or other related person named on the application) by March 2, 2018.

IRS Announces 2018 Standard Mileage Rates

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued the 2018 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, or medical purposes.

2018 Standard Mileage Rates 

Beginning on January 1, 2018, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup, or panel truck will be:

  • 54.5 cents per mile for all business miles driven (up 1 cent from 2017)
  • 18 cents per mile driven for medical purposes (up 1 cent from 2017)
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations (unchanged from 2017)

Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

IRS Notice 2018-03 contains additional information about mileage rates.

New Guidance on QSEHRAs Released

The IRS has released guidance further clarifying the rules regulating qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangements (QSEHRAs). QSEHRAs—which are health reimbursement arrangements exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s market reforms—may be offered by employers with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees that do not offer a group health plan to any of its employees to reimburse employees for medical expenses, including individual health insurance policy premiums.

Guidance HighlightsNew Guidance on QSEHRAs Released
Highlights of the guidance are as follows:

  • Written Notice Deadline: An employer that provides a QSEHRA during 2017 or 2018 must generally furnish its initial written notice to its eligible employees by the later of (a) February 19, 2018, or(b) 90 days before the first day of the plan year of the QSEHRA. Q&A #38 of the guidance explains what information must be included in the notice.
  • “Same Terms” Requirement: Employers are required to provide the QSEHRA on the same terms to all eligible employees. However, the guidance states that QSEHRA payments or reimbursements may vary based on the age of covered individuals or the number of individuals covered in accordance with the variation in the price of an insurance policy in a relevant individual health insurance market.
  • Form W-2 & PCORI Requirements: An employee’s permitted benefit under a QSEHRA must be reported in box 12 of his or her Form W-2 using code FF. In addition, QSEHRA sponsors are subject to the Patient-Centered Outcome Research Institute (PCORI) fee, which generally requires them to file Form 720, Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return, annually by July 31 of the year following the last day of the plan year.

Click here to read the IRS guidance in its entirety.

How Hiring Holiday Help Impacts ‘Pay or Play’ Compliance

Employers that hire seasonal workers this holiday season are reminded that there is an exception when measuring workforce size to determine whether they are an applicable large employer (ALE) subject to the Affordable Care Act’s employer shared responsibility (“pay or play”) and corresponding information reporting provisions.Seasonal Holiday Hiring Pay or Play

Seasonal Worker Exception 
If an employer’s workforce exceeds 50 full-time employees (including full-time equivalent employees) for 120 days or less (or 4 calendar months) during the preceding calendar year, and the employees in excess of 50 who were employed during that period were seasonal workers, the employer is not considered an ALE for the current calendar year. A seasonal worker for this purpose is an employee who performs labor or services on a seasonal basis (e.g., retail workers employed exclusively during holiday seasons are seasonal workers).

Seasonal Worker Versus Seasonal Employee
While the terms “seasonal worker” and “seasonal employee” are both used in the pay or play provisions, only the term “seasonal worker” is relevant for determining whether an employer is considered an ALE. For this purpose, employers may apply a reasonable, good faith interpretation of the term “seasonal worker.” For more information on the difference between a seasonal worker and a seasonal employee under pay or play, please refer to IRS Pay or Play Q&A #26.

IRS to Begin Mailing ‘Pay or Play’ Penalty Letters

The IRS has announced that it will begin mailing employers letters informing them of their potential liability for a “pay or play” penalty for the 2015 calendar year in late 2017. However, before any penalty is assessed and notice and demand for payment is made, employers will have an opportunity to respond to the agency.

What Will the Letter Contain?
The IRS plans to issue Letter 226J to applicable large employers (ALEs)—generally those with at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, on average during the prior year—if it determines that, for at least one month in the year, one or more of the ALE’s full-time employees was enrolled in a qualified health plan for which a premium tax credit was allowed (and the ALE did not qualify for an affordability safe harbor or other relief for the employee). Letter 226J will include, among other things:Pay or Play IRS

  • A penalty payment summary table, itemizing the proposed payment by month;
  • An “employee premium tax credit list” which lists, by month, the ALE’s employees who for at least one month in the year were full-time employees allowed a premium tax credit and for whom the ALE did not qualify for an affordability safe harbor or other relief;
  • A description of the actions the ALE should take if it agrees or disagrees with the proposed penalty payment; and
  • A response form.

The response to Letter 226J will be due by the response date shown on the letter, which generally will be 30 days from the date of Letter 226J. Letter 226J will also contain the name and contact information of a specific IRS employee that the ALE should contact if the ALE has questions about the letter.

How Does an ALE Make a Pay or Play Penalty Payment?
If, after correspondence between the ALE and the IRS, the IRS determines that an ALE is liable for a penalty payment, the IRS will assess the payment and issue a notice and demand for payment, Notice CP 220J. That notice will instruct the ALE on how to make a payment, if any. Notably, an ALE will not be required to include a payment on any tax return that it files or make a payment before notice and demand for payment.

Click here for more information from the IRS.

PCORI Fees Hiked for 2018 Filing Period

The IRS recently announced an increase in the applicable dollar amount used to determine the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fee for plan years that end on or after October 1, 2017 and before October 1, 2018. As a reminder, employers sponsoring certain self-insured plans are responsible for the PCORI fee.

For plan years ending on or after October 1, 2017 and before October 1, 2018, the fee for an employer sponsoring an applicable self-insured plan is $2.39, multiplied by the average number of lives covered under the plan. PCORI fees for plan years that end between October 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017 will be due to the IRS in July 2018.

Click here to read the IRS notice announcing the increase. Details on how to determine the average number of lives covered under a plan are included in these regulations.

Tip Reporting Form 2017 Released

tip

The IRS recently released its 2017 Form 8027Employer’s Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips. This form generally must be filed by employers who operate large food or beverage establishments. A large food or beverage establishment is a food or beverage operation:

  • That is located in the 50 states or in the District of Columbia;
  • Where tipping of food or beverage employees by customers is customary; and
  • Whose employer normally employed more than 10 employees on a typical business day during the preceding calendar year.

Form 8027 (and Form 8027-T, to be used when filing more than one paper Form 8027) must be filed by February 28, 2018. However, if an employer files electronically, the due date is April 2, 2018. Employers required to file 250 or more Forms 8027 must file electronically.

Click here for more information and instructions.

Affordable Care Act Updates

See More

HR News Alerts